‘That is when Stevenson wrote his plaint about the disappearance of the gas lanterns. He muses particularly on the rhythm with which lamplighters go through the streets and light one lantern after another. At first this rhythm contrasted with the uniformity of the dusk, but now the contrast is-with a brutal shock caused by the spectacle of entire cities suddenly being illuminated by electric light. “Such a light as this should shine only on murders and public crime, or along the corridors of lunatic asylums, a horror to heighten horror” [Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘A Plea for Gas Lamps’, in Virginibus Puerisque and Other Papers. Works, Tusitala Edition, vol. 25, London, 1924, p. 132] There is some indication that only latterly was such an idyllic view of gaslight taken as Stevenson’s, who wrote its obituary.’ (‘The Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire’, 51)
cf. Benjamin’s letters to Gretel Adorno 20.7.1938, etc.